Spring Statement 2018
Spring is synonymous with change, so March has always seemed a timely month for the Budget. This year, the only major change was the timetable; following moves by the Chancellor to consolidate Budget announcements from twice yearly to once, Tuesday 13th March saw Philip Hammond present a much more streamlined Spring Statement.
The Statement, explained Philip as he stood before the House of Commons, is designed to provide updates on progress and launch consultations ahead of the Budget 2018. But, besides a fair share of political point-scoring, did anything meaningful come from the Spring Statement? GoSimple Software have picked out some of the highlights:
Incentives for apprenticeships
The Government has been flying the flag for apprenticeships for some time, and has committed to getting 3 million young people onto these training schemes. But it recognises the challenges that small businesses face when looking to become an approved apprenticeship training provider, which is why the Chancellor announced £80m worth of incentives to help employers adopt schemes over the coming years.
VAT and online payments review
Whilst the Statement included no announcements of sweeping changes to the tax system, Hammond did hint at possible changes to the VAT mechanism – particularly around online payments. A consultation will be launched to review the current system and identify areas for improvement.
It remains to be seen how this will play out. On the one hand, a system that enables VAT to be sent directly to HMRC, removing the administrative burden from businesses, would be good news.
However, Making Tax Digital is already designed to simplify tax for businesses and the self-employed, and further changes could present a further headache for the VAT-registered. So, will this be a help or a hindrance?
Fast-tracked business rates review
In the Budget 2017, Philip Hammond announced that business rates will be reviewed every three years from 2022. However, on the 13th of March the Chancellor announced that he will be bringing forward the next business rate review to 2021, with triennial updates thereafter.
A review of business rates usually comes with winners and losers, so we’ll have to wait and see what happens when this comes around in a few years’ time.
Other points raised in the Spring Statement included:
- A commitment to cracking down on late payments for small businesses
- Future reductions in road tax for vans, which is great news for contractors
- A review of self-funded training for the self-employed
- Support to help employers with the rollout of T levels
- Support to reduce the productivity gap of British businesses
- Renewed commitment to road construction and affordable housing
Overall, the Chancellor kept his cards very much close to his chest in the Spring Statement. We’ll have to hold tight until the Budget 2018 this autumn to find out what is planned for the years ahead, though if the economy continues as it’s predicted to there may be scope to increase public spending.
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